Solar Panels 

Introduction

Our System

Solar Panels

Batteries

12v Battery Charger

120v AC Power Inverter

Catalytic Heaters

Display Panels

Wiring

Installation

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Everybody has solar panels for sale.  Which ones should we buy?
We ended up with three BP Solar 85 watt panels.  Selecting the solar panels depends on how much power will be used each day and how many amp-hours of battery capacity is on board. 

I used a worksheet on the web to estimate average watts we would use each day.  The salesman reviewed my calculations and suggested three panels would be plenty.  We installed the panels leaving room to add a fourth later if required.
A solar controller is also required to prevent the batteries from being over charged. We selected a Heliotrope controller because it provides a multistage chigger cycle, temperature compensation and displays, charge amps, battery voltage and amps being used.  Work out your battery and solar panel requirements together to ensure a balanced design.


Try these links for stores with more information.
Great educational information      www.rvpowerproducts.com
More information and products   www.rvsolarelectric.com
Where I bought my equipment    www.rvsolar.com
Another competitive store          www.solar-electric.com
Installation was fairly simple.  (We had the shop do it).

The placement and installation of the power equipment took weeks to determine the best fit.  I learned a little more every time I talked with someone.  Quite often I heard conflicting information and had to do more research to learn the real facts. 

3 BP Solar 200 Watt Panels
3 BP Solar 200 Watt Panels

The panels are mounted using "L" shaped aluminum brackets and lag bolts.  The panels are bolted to the mounting brackets.  The lag bolts and edges of the bracket are covered with "Dicor" caulking to make a water tight seal.

The panels are wired together leaving some slack to tilt the panels.  From there the wire was run down the refrigerator vent to the charge controller and then onto the batteries.  The factory installed solar wiring was too small of a gauge wire and required drilling holes through the ceiling.  I've heard that the wire is usually too small for all but a single panel.

An extension bar can be manually bolted onto one side to hold the panel at a tilt.  This is useful to get the most power from the low winter sun. 

Words of wisdom from a long-time RV "Boondocker" . . . 
"if you need to tilt your panels you don't have enough of them. "

ã copyright Nodland 1999